A fundamental engine of democracy is found in the dynamic of the desire to be right (consistency) and the desire to connect (immediacy). Righteousness of any sort is decided by humans. Belief in a divine being communicating a moral code still requires a human mind to decide to trust that it itself can interpret the moral code. Removal of a divine being changes nothing, righteousness is a decision by the human mind to trust in a moral code. A moral code gains traction by the amount of visible support from others.
Humans are social animals, we are meant to be in a group of some unclear size and have an inherent instinct to connect. We enjoy conversation. We enjoy the fleeting sense of hierarchy which emerges from correction, most commonly the correction of another although occasionally the correction of ourselves. We enjoy conversation, and conversation draws righteousness from immediacy of moral code & consistency of moral code.
So our conversations, whether of a serious or casual nature, our conversations have a dynamic of righteousness. Of course, there is spontaneity, other forms of playfulness, emotional release, personal revelation and so very much more to conversations than solely righteousness. Nevertheless, the dynamic constrained within our instinct to connect and our enjoyment of righteousness help to propagate good ideas through our society, improve political opinion of the citizen and the political structure of the institutes locally present.
The state of Australia allows the sale of cigarettes. These are addictive. The reinforcement of cigarettes is mainly chemical, although social reinforcement must be recognised as significant. Cigarettes are sold from certain businesses, with taxation and bureaucratic controls. They must have plain packages, with graphic warnings of health costs. In addition to these controls, there are other efforts. These are advertising of the costs involved, such as abandonment of friends & family by early death.
Cigarettes are purchasable by anyone over the age of 18, this age is the arbitrary point of maturity. At this age the state assumes that the individual is able to make decisions and handle responsibility. There are costs involved with cigarette use which are not entirely covered by the individual. So the increased price of cigarettes contributes towards medical costs directly connected to cigarette use. This is an exchange between individual choice and state support.
This system lacks qualification of decision making maturity, and could be improved by encouraging or ensuring education, perhaps by a civic class in schools. It allows the individual to choose to behave in a way which costs the community, perhaps by early death or medical cost, and an individual bears greater responsibility for this choice in the form of tax. However as the choice is only possible due to state allowance, it is unrealistic to put the complete responsibility upon the individual. The Australian way presents freedom of choice, sharing of burden of choice and can be developed by improved education.
How should a society responsibly manage addictive substances and behaviours?
To briefly define addiction; an addiction is an act which self -reinforces with rewards of conscious values (social, money, kindness) or subconscious values (biological, emotional) and shortens or worsens life.
Assuming freedom of choice is the fundamental building block to a better community for tomorrow. This freedom must be be balanced between individual & group costs. The initial question is positioned as how the group should properly present addiction to the individual. A state supports a citizen until some arbitrary criteria for independence is achieved. The state seeks to maintain itself and its standards. Freedom of choice being the fundamental value, physical & mental maturity as secondary and rewarding physical & mental effort as the tertiary group values.
So my development of this state of affairs to an ideal approach by the state is as follows. The addictive act, should be presented at a time when the body & mind are adequately prepared. This point of maturity will vary from addiction to addiction, mainly on the power to self-reinforce. Assistance to develop qualities which improve both decision making and harm reduction should be publicly supplied, such things as education on chemical & social effects or advertising. The choice is allowed when the individual is arbitrarily mature and the addiction is taxed to compensate the state for increased social support often caused by addiction. The process of earning money should engage a citizen in a more ‘proper’ lifestyle.
Movement to & fro unity is a constant in this world of flux. Perhaps it is all heading for a final unity in the heat death of the universe. Or maybe not. Regardless, I believe there is an inexorable trend towards greater global unity is and that’s a bloody good thing. With modern travel, trade and the internet, it is global exposure at the individual level as never before.
Global moral code has not developed an individually significant hierarchy. UN action & discussion is very distant from individuals. Unity & disunity between moral codes has lessened because of the UN, and conversation between nations has increased. Continuing conflict between moral codes is inevitable, acceptable and a place where the competition will never end.
At the individual level, the effects of the internet must surely be considered the most global of the facets of the immediate environment. This facet is a shared experience of the general chaos that is the internet today. This will lead to a set of consistent experiences which will have a systemic structure, and will develop a global moral code relevant at the individual level. Potential competing codes may arise about divisions of language, technical capacity (IRC, darknet), Google result hierarchy and others.